A new visitor centre, improved play equipment and better paths and trail signage are set to transform River Hamble Country Park (RHCP) in Botley. The aim of the investment is to attract more families to the country park and make it more accessible to everyone.
Councillor Seán Woodward approved the investment at his Recreation and Heritage Decision Day on Monday 25 February. He commented: “River Hamble Country Park is a beautiful riverside park, already very popular with walkers and local dog owners, but we can see potential for more people to get more benefit from it. Our popular family attraction, Manor Farm, is just next door, and we would love to see more families enjoying the wild, natural beauty of the park as well as visiting the farm.
“Our programme of investment in Hampshire’s biggest country parks is already proving successful at attracting more visitors and encouraging them to stay longer. By investing in facilities and making the trails easier to access, we can make River Hamble Country Park more financially sustainable – but also provide an even better day out for Hampshire residents.”
The £800,000 investment will provide:
• A visitor centre that includes toilets, catering, some under cover seating and a hire space that can be used by the community for learning based activities and school visits.
• Improved play equipment, following feedback from visitors who wanted to see more opportunities for adventure and natural play.
• Improvements to paths to make them more accessible and usable in all weathers, to help make River Hamble a destination in all seasons.
• New signage to give visitors the confidence to explore.
The work is forecast to increase visitor numbers by 10 per cent. It builds on work already underway at the park to improve the entrance and introduce ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) so visitors can pay for parking more easily.
The transformation of River Hamble Country Park is the final project in a three year programme of transformation, which has brought significant investment to all five of Hampshire County Council’s biggest country parks. Lepe and Royal Victoria Country Park completed their new facilities in 2018. Staunton and Queen Elizabeth Country Parks are set to complete their transformations this year, and the work at River Hamble Country Park is expected to begin in September 2019.